NSW Government Readies National Digital Birth Certificate

NSW Government Readies National Digital Birth Certificate
Apple emojis. Image: Zachariah Kelly/Gizmodo Australia

The NSW government and the state’s Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages are now working on digital birth certificates, after months of planning.

Touting the success of the state’s digital driver licence this week, NSW Minister for Customer Service and Digital Government Victor Dominello said a digital birth certificate was on its way. Back in April 2021, Dominello’s department dropped word that it was spearheading work on a national digital birth certificate. National, because unlike driver’s licences, birth certificates are issued to all citizens, no matter what state they live in.

As originally reported by iTnews, and confirmed by the Minister’s LinkedIn post, the state government is going to send a pilot live via the NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages.

He said once up and running, other states and territories will be able to plug in. This will clearly need tweaking at each state/territory level and Dominello said each respective department will be able to modify the solution using their own back-end systems to make it work for them. Back when he announced it, there was talk of it plugging into the federal myGov system, but with new Prime Minister Anthony Albanese giving this online portal of uselessness an audit, we’re unsure if that will still be the case.

“This will enable a nationally recognised system – i.e. a birth certificate issued from the Victorian registry will be recognised in NSW, and vice versa,” Dominello said.

“But more importantly – if we get this right – it could be a platform/framework for many other applications that is the source of so much friction, as people move/work between states and territories.”

nsw digital birth certificate
Image: Victor Dominello

As reported by iTnews this week, the government is looking to pilot a “verifiable credential”. It is also continuing to work with private sector providers like banks on digital solutions. While the nature of the credential was not known at the time, it now appears that the country’s planned digital birth certificate, and its underpinning platform, as the report said, holds the key.

While the digital driver’s licence is a great example of government digitisation, it’s still not recognised by other states and territories and many organisations, such as banks.

“This is why the Digital Birth Certificate is such a big reform – with national consequences. It is critical that we get it right,” Dominello said.

Dominello expects to have an alpha (test) ready in the next two months, and a beta (another test) a few months after that.

It will be interesting to see what the NSW government has learnt from the digital driver’s licence and also the fact millions of Australians now have their proof of vaccination connected to their phone’s wallet. Of course there’s a number of privacy considerations the government needs to iron out first. With the driver’s licence being such a success, here’s hoping we can say goodbye to the hours spent searching for a piece of paper hidden somewhere in our wardrobe that proves we were born.